Sharad Pawar Says UPA Leadership Talk “False” As Sena Bats For Him – NDTV

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Sharad Pawar Says UPA Leadership Talk 'False' As Sena Bats For Him

Sharad Pawar, who turns 80 tomorrow, has not responded yet. (File)

Mumbai:

Veteran politician Sharad Pawar today dismissed as “false news” any talk about him taking over the leadership of the opposition UPA alliance from Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Speculation that has swirled over the past few days intensified as the NCP chief’s Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena backed him for the role.

“That I am leading UPA is not true. Media is spreading false news,” said Sharad Pawar, who turns 80 tomorrow.

His assertion came hours after the Shiv Sena said the Congress has weakened and the opposition should come together and take strong decisions on a new leadership.

“We will be happy if Sharad Pawar sir becomes the UPA chairman. But I have heard that he refused it. He is a big leader. We will support him if such a proposal comes to the fore officially,” said Sanjay Raut, whose party was earlier part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) but is now ruling Maharashtra in partnership with the ideologically opposite NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) and Congress.

He added the Congress was a “big party” and that these are big things to decide.

“UPA should be made stronger. Congress is a big party, I admit, but it could not get the role of leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha. We have to strengthen the UPA. The way the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi of the Sena, NCP and Congress) in Maharashtra was formed, will there be such a formation in the country? And if yes, who will lead it? All these are big topics… Slowly we can solve them,” Mr Raut said.

Even before Mr Pawar’s denial today, his NCP had put out a clarification and said such talk was floated as a diversion from the massive farmer protests near Delhi.

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“The Nationalist Congress Party would like to clarify that there is no discussion within UPA partners regarding any such proposal,” NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said on Thursday.

“The reports appearing in the media seems to be have planted by vested interests to divert the attention from the ongoing farmers’ agitation,” he added.

Some reports had suggested that Sonia Gandhi, 74, who was forced to take over as interim Congress president after her son Rahul Gandhi quit last year over the party’s abysmal performance in the national election, was inclined to give up the coalition leadership. But sources close to Sonia Gandhi emphatically deny such reports and say there is no question of any discussion or the Congress — the largest party in the opposition coalition — giving up chairmanship.

The Shiv Sena said anything can happen in politics and Mr Pawar was capable of a bigger national role.

“Politics is unpredictable. You never know what will happen next. Pawar has vast experience, knowledge of the issues before the country and knows the pulse of the people,” Mr Raut had said on Thursday, before the NCP’s clarification.

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